Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Column: October 8th: Iranian Threat

Iran's support of terror against Israel, a statement by one of its foremost clerics to annihilate Israel even if Iran was to suffer grave loss in retaliation, Iran's current ballistic missile capability to strike Israel, and the estimation of Israeli officials that Iran will have acquired a nuclear weapon by late 2004 or 2005, all bring harsh reality into focus -- a reality that now directly threatens America as well.

Support of Terror:

Iran has provided and continues to provide Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and factions within Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization with funding, safehaven, training, and weapons. It also encourages Hizballah and "Palestinian" groups to coordinate planning and accelerate attacks. It also has ties with al Qai`dah and may have given shelter to some of its leading operatives after September 11.

Threat of Annihilation:

In December 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, one of Iran's most influential ruling clerics, called on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapons against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only."


"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world", ..."Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world."

Ballistic missile capabilities:

On September 19 Iran tested a version of the Shahab-3 missile capable of carrying a one ton nuclear warhead. The Shahab-3 had been previously tested on August 11. The Shahab-3 is thought to have a range of 2,000 kilometers that reaches all of Israel.

The Nuclear threat:

The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Israeli officials have been quoted as estimating that Iran will have acquired a nuclear weapon by late 2004 or 2005.

Missile Defense Update:

The August 27 test of the Arrow-2 -- in a simulation of an attack from an incoming Iranian Shahab missile or the Scud D -- failed to destroy the target missile.

"The Arrow interceptor was launched toward the target but no intercept was achieved," the US Missile Defense Agency said in a statement. "Many of the test objectives were successfully completed, and the test data is being analyzed by test engineers to determine why an intercept did not occur."

Israeli officials said an Arrow-2 guidance subsystem failed 10 seconds before the interceptor locked on to the Scud D. They said Israel Aircraft Industries, prime contractor of the Arrow-2, has identified the mishap and deemed it marginal.

Iranian Capability to Strike US:

Iran is reportedly planning to use the improved version of the Shahab-3 missile to launch a small satellite into orbit by this coming March.
The space launch could demonstrate an intercontinental capability. The speed and altitude requirements are similar to those needed to send an ICBM across the globe. Similarly, in 1998, North Korea's attempt to put a small satellite into orbit demonstrated it's ICBM capability.

While Israel faces an almost immediate threat of annihilation by Iran, ICBM capability means that the United States will soon face the threat of not annihilation but of a nuclear attack.

As Rafsanjani's rhetoric and homicide bombers show, all assumptions of mutual deterrence and rationality are completely irrelevant when assessing the likelihood of nuclear weapons actually being used by Iran. What made sense during the Cold War makes no sense in the WOT, making clearer than ever the need for effective missile defense -- like the joint American-Israeli Arrow project.

Iran Shows off Ballistic Missiles with anti-US, Israeli slogans:
This past month Iran showed off its range of ballistic missiles at an annual military parade with the rockets draped in banners vowing to "crush America" and "wipe Israel off the map".

A banner stating "Israel must be wiped off the map" was draped on the side of a Shahab-2 missile, while a banner saying "We will crush America under our feet" was on the side of a trailer carrying the latest Shahab-3 missile.

"The Shahab-3 missiles, with different ranges, enables us to destroy the most distant targets," said an official commentary accompanying the parade, which was carried live on state television.

Missile defense is playing catch-up during this administration after spending was slashed by more than fifty percent by the previous one. The upcoming elections will determine if spending is increased or cut -- whether harsh reality is faced or denied -- and whether both America and Israel will meet the Iranian threat.


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